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Movie Review

Hellraiser: Deader

Directed by Rick Bota (2005)
Reviewed by MaT, added on Apr 10 2008

I'm watching all of the Hellraiser films for our big 75th episode spectacular (oops, did I let the chains out of the puzzle box?) and decided to start with the films I have yet to see. First up is Deader, the middle entry of the so-called "Bota Trilogy" (Hellseeker, Deader, Hellworld), so named because all three are directed by veteran horror DP Rick Bota who made his name lensing many Tales from the Crypt episodes in the mid-90's including one of my personal favorites, Werewolf Concerto. In case you were wondering, Deader was also produced by Stan Winston. So there is some talent here. Did it transfer to the screen? Read on.

The plot of this movie is retarded. I'm just saying that straight out. It's eye-rolling stupid. That it comes from the electrician on Waxwork II (Tim Day, who also wrote all of the "Bota Trilogy") and the guy who wrote Thirteen Ghosts (Neal Marshall Stevens) should give you a hint that the quality isn't going to be the greatest. In any event, here's the scoop: Kari Wuhrer plays this famous expose writer named Amy Klein. What's she famous for? Well she's one of those writers who becomes a part of the culture that she's writing about. So she'll do a bunch of crack with some junkies to get their perspective and then come up with Pulitzer winning title's like "How to be a Crack Whore". I wonder if the electrician came up with that one? Anyway, her editor has found the perfect story for her: a videotape shows a girl shooting herself in the head and then a dude in a trench coat breathes life into her, causing her to come back from the dead. This group calls themselves the terror inspiring nickname of the "Deaders" (That had to be the Thirteen Ghosts guy...) and our troubled reporter decides to investigate the claims of resurrection.

Arriving in Bucharest, Amy finds a dead chick clinging to our favorite puzzle box. She also finds a video of the chick explicitly telling her not to open it. So she immediately does. Pinhead shows up in her living room with his standard accoutrements: a short cryptic saying and an "I demand you shoot me with a blue filter on your lens!" lighting assignment. Amy is spooked but continues her journey to understand the Deader's (god, I really hate typing that name) by visiting some dude who apparently owns the last three cars on the subway train and holds decadent sexual orgies in them. Mental note: remind me to visit Bucharest sometime. Eventually Amy makes it to the cult and witnesses a resurrection. Pinhead shows up again to offer some mumbo jumbo about the cult leader finding a pathway to his world and recruiting an army to displace the Cenobites...or some shit. I really have no goddamn clue as to what is supposed to be going on. Spoilers in the next paragraph, by the way...

All of this nonsense eventually leads to a finale where Pinhead shows up, kills everyone, and then inexplicably is defeated by the puzzle box exploding when Amy kills herself. It's so poorly handled that my girlfriend and I literally looked at each other and said "What's happening?" at the same time in bewilderment. Turns out, the cult leader is a descendant of the original puzzle box creator and he thinks the box is his. Of course, though he's got all these "Deader's" to fight Pinhead they just stand there and watch as Pinhead eviscerates all of them with chains in one fell swoop. Pinhead then turns on Amy because she opened the puzzle box but somehow killing herself makes Pinhead yell "NNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" and disappear in a bunch of blue light. I must have missed some vital piece of information but in the event that I didn't I'll just say that no Hellraiser film should be this confusing.

Deader sucks. It begins as an o.k. mystery that just devolves into a pile of shit. Nothing seems to make any sense. Every time there is a scene involving Amy, the film reveals that it was "just a dream" meaning that anything you see you can't believe is real. The Deader's are incredibly lame and do nothing in the movie. I'm not sure it's even explained how the leader brings people back to life? Other than the big finale, Pinhead shows up in 2 scenes for a total of 20 seconds. A lot of people argue that these films are just garbage that happens to throw Pinhead in to capitalize on the franchise name. That's a valid argument, as Deader easily could have replaced the Hellraiser elements (Cenobites and Puzzle Box) with something entirely different and it wouldn't make much of a difference. I can see how people think that. However, what got to me isn't the fact that Pinhead is only in it for a couple scenes (really, that's been the standard for most of the series anyway), but rather that the purpose was not clear. In other words, I can see how this movie would work within the Hellraiser universe but the filmmakers did such a piss poor job of making their case that it feels like it was just thrown in to make an extra buck. Deader needed a much stronger correlation between the cult and the puzzle box to make sense and it just didn't do it.

Deader started out with a bit of promise but lost all of it around the 15 minute mark. Where the filmmakers take the story just isn't that interesting and the narrative is just too damn confusing and illogical to make you care. The film looks fairly good and Bota has a mediocre, yet solid handle on the directing duties. Kari Wuhrer, even without the breast implants, is still a shitty actress and can't pull off the light lifting the script demands of her ("Eat me!"...that line must have been written by the electrician). The film does get points for not being Blackenstein and because it's still cool to see Doug Bradley chew the scenery as Pinhead. Recommended only to those of you who beat off to bloody Cenobites.

p.s. Link to Steve's review of Hellseeker, the first of the Bota Trilogy.

3 / 10

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